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Opponents Trying to Stop Proposed Pipeline

August 8, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Gov. Steve Beshear has called lawmakers into special session Aug. 19 to deal with redistricting. Opponents of a proposed pipeline, which would carry natural gas liquids through Kentucky, want issues related to that project added to the legislative agenda - something only the governor can do.

The pipeline linking the Northeast with the Gulf Coast would cut through the heart of Kentucky.

Cindy Foster was among more than 100 people who delivered a petition to Beshear on Wednesday, demanding immediate action. She said her house in rural Scott County is less than 200 feet from a possible route for the pipeline.

"When I researched and found out what this pipeline was about," she said, "then I was very concerned and actually pretty scared."

Beshear said it would be "premature" and "costly" to add the pipeline issue to the special session. He said lawmakers can take any necessary action when they meet in regular session in January.

However, pipeline opponents are worried that one of the two companies behind the project, Oklahoma-based energy company Williams, will have survey work done and begin acquiring and clearing easements before lawmakers return to Frankfort.

Attorney Brad Slutskin, who lives along the Kentucky River in Woodford County, about a half mile from a potential pipeline route, said time is of the essence because of the threat of eminent domain, the legal term for condemnation.

"This company has made no secret that it believes it has the power of eminent domain," he said. "They're using kind of a cute interpretation of Kentucky's eminent-domain statutes to make the argument."

Most of the landowners do not have the money needed to fight possible condemnation in court, Slutskin said, adding that it's urgent for lawmakers to take action to clarify that the power of eminent domain would not cover a natural-gas liquid pipeline.

"What it would amount to," he said, "is basically tightening some definitions in the existing statutes."

Pipeline opponents also worry that no state agency is assigned regulatory oversight of these types of pipelines.

Foster said she has deep safety concerns about a natural-gas liquids pipeline, noting that a spill from a Williams pipeline in Colorado contaminated a creek with cancer-causing benzene.

"Parachute Creek, Colorado, proves that they have leaks and that they're not ready for that," she said.

More information on the Williams pipeline proposal is online at b2i.us.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY